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Review by Brad Green:
Very few composers have the ability or daring to skip between genres as dramatically as Howard Shore. He veered from exotic Moroccan experimentations for The Cell, to Oscar-winning philharmonic grandeur and Germanic oratorios for Lord Of The Rings; and here he takes us on an extended excursion into electric neo-bop. 

The orchestra has been dispensed with, and a tight ensemble of jazz cats brought in to record a series of tracks that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Miles Davis album. Ostensibly stretching out over 14 cues, this is really one long, exploratory fusion piece that is as far from Lord Of The Rings as Montreal from Middle-earth. Yes, here we are in the city of the world’s most famous jazz festival, with a cast of crafty heist-meisters, and the musical backdrop to match. Nice work if you have the ability to whisk between genres with a wave of your baton. 

Over a vibrant tapestry of funky bass and percussion; over rippling vibes, piano and guitar; and alongside sparse, angular trumpet; the simplest of motifs are played out on sampled brass and strings. It is an unusual approach, and absolutely effective. The straightforwardness of the themes, and the thick incessant beat stick out, allowing the musicianship to sneak in between, deftly carrying the mood. 

The bass lines are most intriguing. They slap and pop around the fundamental groove, providing, in collaboration with the percussion, the music’s foundation. Then occasionally they slip up a winding staircase of their own melodic design, briefly peeking out over the top of the arrangement, and smoothly sliding down again. The groove returns and we are simply left with an impression of passing energy. 

Each instrument, in fact, makes its own waves; both independent of, and integral to, the shimmering sea of sound. It requires a great deal of compositional cunning to make it work; and musicians fully cottoned on to the fact that jazz is just like a heist: the secret lies in taking all manner of criminal liberties, and being clever and talented enough to get away with them.

Published June 13, 2002

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TITLE: The Score
ID: 30206 62672
Varese Sarabande
FEATURED PERFORMERS: Charnett Moffett (bass); Tim Hagans (trumpet); Dave Samuels (vibes); David Torn (guitar); Mike Lang (piano); Steve Schaeffer (drums) 

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